A stepping-stone to the future

July 5, 2019
TMC membership can help industry members with professional development and growth.

The smooth operation of any trucking company relies heavily on the proper maintenance of its equipment. A well-staffed maintenance shop includes trained technicians, supervisors, and managers who strategize how to eliminate breakdowns and increase efficiencies.

ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) recognizes the importance of the equipment maintenance staff – especially the frontline technician - and develops Recommended Practices (RPs) to guide shop processes and procedures. Along with RPs, TMC provides an arena for networking with peers and real-time discussions about maintenance issues.

Where to begin

Technicians can get their foot in the TMC door by participating in the annual National Technician Skills Competitions set for Sept. 15-17 at the Raleigh Convention Center, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The competitions – also known as TMCSuperTech – have challenged hundreds of professional technicians since 2005. The event features a written test (based on ASE standards) and skills stations that focus on various systems of heavy equipment such as wheel ends or HVAC. All skills stations are chosen by TMC’s Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC), which includes maintenance professionals and notable contestants from past competitions. The PTDC is also responsible for organizing training fairs that are offered in conjunction with TMCSuperTech.

Often technicians who participate and succeed in TMC’s competitions become valuable trainers in their own organizations. The most successful trucking companies constantly train their maintenance shop technicians in the basics – such as scheduling of preventive service – as well as how to maintain new technologies which are becoming more prevalent in heavy equipment – such as safety tools that prevent over-the-road accidents.

As technicians improve their skills, they are often tapped to be shop supervisors and maintenance managers with increasing responsibilities. At the same time, their relationship with TMC often shifts from being tested at TMCSuperTech to being a tester – or they take the big step towards helping to develop industry standards in the form of Recommended Practices.

TMC is made up of 15 Study Groups or Committees that focus on various truck systems, for example, TMC’s S.2 Study Group is for Tire and Wheel. TMC Study Groups identify current issues in their area and create educational sessions to explore possible solutions.

Under each TMC Study Group are multiple Task Force committees that work to develop RPs to address particular issues facing the specific equipment system. TMC’s RP Manual currently has more than 500 individual RPs that fill more than 5,000 pages. All TMC members have access to the searchable RP library.

Other learning opportunities

TMC membership has other benefits for rising fleet professionals. Over the past year, dozens of TMC members have taken advantage of educational opportunities through the North American Transportation Management Institute's (NATMI) Certified Director/Supervisor of Maintenance certification courses. Classes are scheduled at various times during the year and usually in conjunction with a TMC meeting.

Or for a real-time benefit, check out the TMC/FleetNet America Vertical Benchmarking Program, a roadside breakdown benchmarking service which enables companies to compare their fleets’ unscheduled roadside repairs with those of comparable fleets. The program works by tracking what systems are failing and compares that to similar fleets, which assists TMC members in reviewing the effectiveness of their overall maintenance operations.

Another useful member benefit is the trucking cybersecurity initiative known as ATA’s Fleet CyWatch program. This program assists motor carriers in protecting their operations by identifying emerging cyber threats and helping guard against malicious actions of cybercriminals. By coordinating with private and federal law enforcement, the program provides fleet members with information and recommendations in the areas of cybersecurity awareness, prevention, and mitigation methods. The program strives to identify all types of internet crime which seek to disrupt fleet operations.

All these benefits are in addition to a weekly industry newspaper, Transport Topics, as well as a monthly newsletter and quarterly magazine. And we didn’t even mention the networking and collaboration opportunities that are enjoyed by TMC members.

TMC Leaders of Tomorrow program

Most newcomers to TMC are overwhelmed by all these offerings, so we created a program to help guide individuals through the membership benefits and ensure everyone succeeds as an equipment maintenance professional.

The TMC Leaders of Tomorrow (TLoT) program identifies and cultivates the next generation of TMC and industry front-runners by preparing them to take on leadership roles in the Council. These roles include study group chair or directors-at-large. The program provides all candidates with important skills that will serve them well at TMC and in their careers.

“My heart will always be with the technician,” said Daniel Mustafa, assistant manager for technical development at TravelCenters and a recent graduate of the TLoT program. Mustafa was delighted to hear a panel of expert speakers say they all started their careers as technicians. “I share the mindset of those running the (TMC) show so I feel I belong in TMC.” Mustafa first participated in the TMCSuperTech competition and judged one of the skill stations prior to attending the full meeting.

Through the TLoT program, participants are encouraged to cultivate new business relationships and friendships through peer networking opportunities and to increase their knowledge of trucking, regulatory, and leadership issues through professional development opportunities.

TLoT candidates can be nominated by a direct supervisor or company executive who completes a TMC Leaders of Tomorrow Nomination Form.

Janet Howells-Tierney serves as the director of council development for TMC, the only industry association that is focused solely on truck technology and maintenance. She is responsible for the recruiting and building of TMC's membership, and also functions as the primary member services link for TMC's membership of more than 2,400 industry practitioners. 

About the Author

Janet Howells-Tierney | Director of Council Development, TMC

Janet Howells-Tierney serves as the director of council development for the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) – the only industry association that is focused solely on truck technology and maintenance. She is responsible for the recruiting and building of TMC membership, as well as acting as the communications link for Council activity.

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